Multicultural Book of the Month: Drum Dream Girl

with 18 Comments

Multicultural Children's Book: Drum Dream Girl

Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music

  written by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael López


Drum Dream Girl is a vibrant picture book inspired by the childhood of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese African Cuban girl who became a world-renowned percussionist.

In 1930s Cuba, girls were not allowed to be drummers. But one little girl dreamed of “pounding tall conga drums/ tapping small bongó drums/ and boom boom booming/ with long, loud sticks/ on big, round, silvery/ moon-bright timbales”. Not allowed by her father to play the drums, she had to keep quiet and practice in secret.

With the help of her sisters – founders of Cuba’s first all-girl dance band – the girl’s father eventually agreed to get her drum lessons. Amazed by her talent, her music teacher lets the drum dream girl play at a cafe. When at last her music was heard, everyone sang and danced and decided that both girls and boys should be free to drum and dream.

Drum Dream Girl is a truly inspiring story about gender equality, persistence and following your dreams.


Multicultural Children's Book: Drum Dream Girl pages


Margarita Engle and Rafael López are the 2016 winners of the Pura Belpré Author Award and Illustrator Award. The Pura Belpré Awards honour Latino children’s book authors and illustrators whose work best portrays the Latino culture.

You can almost hear the drum beat in Engle’s rhythmic text which works together beautifully with Lopez’ energetic illustrations. The warm acrylic paintings on wood have a dream-like feel about them, and bring to life Millo’s story as well as Cuba’s diversity.

An author’s note gives more background information on Millo Castro Zaldarriaga’s life.

Drum Dream Girl is suitable for Preschool and Elementary School children (ages 4 to 8).

Awards & Honours: Charlotte Zolotow Award Best Picture Book 2015, 2016 Pura Belpré Award Illustration, ALA Notable Children’s Book, APALA Award Honor, CCCB Choice, Notable Books for a Global Society (International Literacy Association), Best Multicultural Books of 2015 (Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature), School Library Journal Top 10 Latino Books for 2015, School Library Journal Best Books of 2015, Kirkus Best Informational Picture Books of 2015, 2015 Cybils Award Nominee, ALSC Notables Nominee, and many more…




More Multicultural Children’s Books by Margarita Engle:
Multicultural Children's Book: Enchanted Air Multicultural Children's Book: The Poet Slave of Cuba Multicultural Children's Book: The Wild Book Multicultural Children's Book: The Sky Painter Multicultural Children's Book: The Surrender Tree Multicultural Children's Book: The Lightning Dreamer Multicultural Children's Book: Silver People


More Multicultural Children’s Books about Inspiring Women & Girls:

Multicultural Picture Book Biographies about Inspiring Women & Girls


More Multicultural Children’s Books of the Month:

Mama, Do You Love Me?

Fannie Lou Hamer: Voice of Freedom


*You can buy any of the books on this site from Amazon USA, CAN or UK by clicking on the book titles or covers*


18 Responses

  1. Katie Logonauts
    | Reply

    Such a wonderful book! Really looking forward to hearing Margarita Engle accept the Zolotow award this coming weekend. Thanks for sharing this with #diversekidlit!

  2. This is definitely one of my favourite picturebooks – Margarita sent me an unbound review copy of this one which I shall forever treasure. 🙂

  3. Crystal
    | Reply

    This is such a fantastic book. I shared it with many of my classes this year. It’s beautiful, but also tells a wonderful story.

    • Colours of Us

      How did your class like it? Most adults love it but curious to hear what kids have to say about this book.

  4. pragmaticmom
    | Reply

    I really loved this picture book too and it’s great to see all of Margarita Engle’s books featured. Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful post at the Kid Lit Blog Hop.

  5. Xyra
    | Reply

    Hello, stopping by from the Kid Lit Blog Hop.

    Sounds like a great book. I love the artwork!

    • Colours of Us

      The artwork is amazing! Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Lisa Lewis, MD
    | Reply

    This sounds like a lovely tale. I like to read multicultural, inspirational books featuring girls.

    • Colours of Us

      Me too!

  7. Alex Baugh
    | Reply

    I’m such a fan of Margarita Engle and just finished Enchanted Air for the second time. This looks like a beautiful story and perfect for Women’s History Month. Thanks for sharing it and I’m so glad Ilve found your blog.

    • Colours of Us

      Thank you! Enchanted Air is on my reading list, too!

  8. Stacy Mozer
    | Reply

    Hopping in from the Kidlit Blog Hop.

    This sounds like a wonderful and inspirational book. I blog over at Sporty Girl Books and spend a lot of time thinking about sports where girls are trying to break in. It didn’t occur to me that drumming might be a place where girls have this problem. Thanks for sharing!

    • Colours of Us

      Thanks for hopping over and sharing your thoughts!

  9. Jennifer
    | Reply

    I liked this book as well, especially the vibrant illustrations.

    • Colours of Us

      Yes, the illustrations are stunning!

  10. Catherine @ Story Snug
    | Reply

    This sounds a fabulous story with a very determined heroine – good for her for following her dreams :o)

    Hopping over from The Kid Lit Blog Hop

    • Colours of Us

      Thanks for hopping over!

Leave a Reply